On the outskirts of Florence sits Villa di Castello, country home of Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574), Grand Duke of Tuscany. Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Primavera once adorned the walls of the villa, and Castello’s elaborate garden — renowned throughout Europe — influenced other famous gardens including Florence’s Boboli Gardens.
Villa di Castello has seen a number of changes since the Medici died out in 1737. It has functioned as a school, a hospital, even a dorm for gardeners, but today it serves a most noble Italian organization, the Accademia della Crusca.
La Crusca is a historic society, founded in Florence in 1582 with the mission of “cleaning up” the Italian language. Literally translated as the Academy of the Bran, the organization “has been characterized by its efforts to maintain the purity of the Italian language.” As one separating wheat would discard the bran, so too does La Crusca, “straining out corrupt words and structures” from the Italian language. La Crusca continues today as the “most important research institution on Italian language as well as the oldest linguistic academy in the world.” (source)
Oh how I would love to add La Crusca’s biblioteca to my list of beautiful libraries/bookstores I have visited, but alas, I don’t believe this room (nor any part of the villa) is open to the public. The gardens, however, are free and accessible. Visitor information here.